Thursday, February 27, 2014

Show Us Your Life: Infertility

When Kelly announced infertility as a topic for last Friday's Show Us Your Life, I knew I wanted to participate.  But almost as soon as I began writing last Thursday night, I stopped.

I stopped because I didn't know what to say.  I realized that I am now one of those women I once envied and despised all at the same time.  Success stories were always hard for me to read during all those failed treatment cycles.  While I was happy for that person, I was also jealous and bitter.

I've struggled with this post all week because I know it could possibly be painful for someone.  I don't want that to be the case.  I hope my story reminds you that prayers are answered, and that the best things in life are always worth the wait.

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I am a survivor of infertility and pregnancy loss.

If you're reading this and you've never dealt with infertility or loss, you may be thinking that "survivor" is a pretty strong word to use.  That word is usually reserved for people who have walked away from things like cancer or plane crashes or war--something horrible and catastrophic and life-changing.

But if you've suffered from infertility in the past, or if you're struggling with it right now, you know that survivor is a perfect word to describe a person who has been through it.

Infertility is a war of it's own kind.  Instead of traditional weapons, it's fought with prayer and hope and love.  It's fought with fertility drugs that wreak havoc on your system, constant injections and blood tests, ultrasounds, IUIs, and IVF.  It's fought with reproductive endocrinologists who want you to have a baby almost as badly as you do, and with nurses who will celebrate with you when you see your first baby on the ultrasound screen...and then cry with you a few weeks later when you realize the baby's heart has stopped.  It's fought with frustration, tears, and angry persistence. 

You put your heart and soul into fertility treatments, and, by gosh, if you make it through with at least some of your sanity intact, then you, my friend, deserve to be called a survivor.

Our infertility story began in 2007.  B and I had been married a year, and wanted to start a family.  Although infertility never crossed my mind in the beginning (oh, how ignorance is bliss sometimes!), as the months went by I realized that there was a problem.  A little over a year later, I was diagnosed with PCOS.  We quickly realized that we needed to see a specialist, and made an appointment at REACH.  We had a great team of doctors and nurses, and were immediately comfortable with them and the plan we worked together to create.  We started treatment right away, and conceived the first month.  B and I couldn't believe we were finally going to have a baby, and we were so very excited.  The first ultrasound was amazing, but the second revealed that the baby's heart had stopped.  I can't begin to describe the heartbreak and sorrow we felt then, and continued to feel with every failed treatment over the next year and a half.  Finally, in August 2010, after being told the odds were against us, we learned we were pregnant again.  I was a nervous wreck for the entire pregnancy, always scared to death that something was going to go wrong with our miracle.  But it didn't.  In March 2011, after years of waiting, we finally had our baby.  She is such a blessing, and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for her.

If you're struggling with infertility right now, I'm not going to say that it will all be okay.  No one wants to hear that, and I can't guarantee that it will be.  What I can do is tell you this:  There are going to be days that are so dark and so hard you don't want to crawl out of bed.  There will be times when you question God, and when you question yourself.  You're going to be angry and hurt and sad and confused.  It is going to hurt like nothing has ever hurt before.

But just hold on.  Surround yourself with people who love you, and learn to lean on them. Remind yourself that it's okay to feel the way you do.  Realize that there will be baby showers, people will have babies, and there will always be reminders everywhere of the baby you don't have.  Find ways to protect your heart and cope.  Have patience with those people who mean well, but say the most hurtful things.

Most of all, keep believing and praying.  Trust God and praise Him even as you're questioning and waiting, and know that He can make a way even when things seem so impossible.

I know how hard it is, and my heart goes out to you.  Couples struggling to have a child are regularly part of my prayers, but I would be honored to pray for you specifically.  If I can do this for you, you are welcome to leave a comment or send an email. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

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